Aesir (Æsir in Old Norse) were one race of gods that resided in Asgard. Their counterpart and once enemies, whom they warred upon, were the Vanir. The Vanir were more deities of nature and fertility. Whereas the Aesir were more warlike than their rival. When the two warring races, Aesir and Vanir, made peace, the Vanir deities such as Njörd (Njord), Frey and Freyr became Aesir. (See War of Aesir and Vanir for more detail.)

Only four of the Aesir deities were common to other Germanic tribes: Odin (Wodan), Frigg, Thor (Donar) and Tyr (Tiw or Tiwaz). See Teutonic Deities.

An As is the singular name for the Aesir. The female As were called an Asynia (pl. Asynior or Asyniur). Note that I now have redesign this page to separate the Aesir from the Asyniur (female Aesir).

It should be noted that Snorri Sturluson (1179-1241), the Icelandic writer, who wrote the Prose Edda, made an interesting comparison with the Aesir gods to the people in Asia, particular to the Trojan royal family. Snorri wrote that the Aesir had come from Asia, and he compared the Ragnarok with the Fall of Troy, so Snorri is saying that Asgard, home of the gods, was also called Troy. Several of the gods were identified with the heroes. Snorri wrote that Thor was once called Hector, Ali (Vali) was Helenus, and Vidar with Aeneas. While Loki was compared to the devious trickster Ulysses (Odysseus).



 
Aesir
Asyniur
Non-Aesir Deities


Fact and Figures: The Norse Way

Genealogy: Family Tree of Norse Deities and Giants


Related Pages:
      Vanir
      Teutonic Deities
      Giants





Aesir

Chief Aesir

 
Odin
Ve (Lodur)
Vili (Hœnir)
Thor
Tyr
 
Njörd, see the Vanir page
Freyr, see the Vanir page
Heimdall
Loki


Minor Aesir

 
Ull
Bragi
Forseti
 
Vidar     
Vali
Balder
Höd
Hermod
 
Mirmir
Magni and Modi
Mani, see Sol and Moon


Genealogy: Family Tree of Norse Deities and Giants





Odin
 

Ruler of universe and leader of the Aesir. Odin was the son of the giants, Bor and Bestla. He along with his brothers, Ve (Lodur) and Vili (Hœnir) created the universe.

When he and his brothers created the first man and woman, named Askr and Embla, each god gave them gift. Odin gave them the gift of breath. As one of the creators of the universe and father of many of the gods, Odin became known as Alfodur ("Father of All"). See Norse Creation.

Odin was the father of many Aesir deities. His wife and consort was Frigg. By Frigg, Odin was father of Baldr, Höd and Hermod. Odin was the father of his eldest son, Thor, by Jörd (Jord or Fjörgyn (Fjorgyn)), a giantess (some say Frigg was Thor's mother). By another giantess named Grid, Odin was the father of Vidar. Odin was also the father of Vali by Rind, daughter of King Billing.

According to the Nordic myths, he was the chief sky god, replacing Tyr, who was originally the chief gods to the ancient Germanic tribes. He also inherited Tyr's role as god of sky and war. Though Odin was the supreme ruler of the gods and men, in contrast with Tyr, he was not trustworthy, because in several stories, he would break his oaths.

Odin was more popular with noble class and the warriors, than the peasants and working class.

Odin seemed to be god of war, particularly victory in battle (Sigtyr or "victory-god"); he was the god who can turn the tide of the battle.

Odin was known as Val-father ("Father of the Slains"), since he received half of the fallen heroes in battles, known as the Einherjar. These heroes wait for the coming of Ragnarök (Ragnarok), in Odin's great hall, called Valhalla ("Hall of the Slains").

Odin had another great hall, which was called Valaskialf, that had a roof of pure silver. In the hall was his throne called Hlidskialf, where he could watch the entire world.

He was god of the hanged and was called Hanga. Odin himself was hanged for nine days under the Yggdrasill (World Tree), pierced by his own spear. There he learned the magic of runes and some powerful spells within poetry. See Sacrifice: Hanging and Runes.

Odin offered wandered the world, accompanied by Vili (Hoenir) and Loki. Loki was often allowed to attend the feast in Asgard, since Odin and Loki were blood brother. In Norse myths, ties through blood-oaths were sometimes stronger than among kin. Loki often helped Odin, but sometimes his mischievous nature caused more trouble and embarrassment to him and the other gods.

Odin was depicted as somber and grim bearded god, who sacrificed one of his eyes, so he could drink from the well of Mirmir (Well of Wisdom). Odin was also described as the god who wore wide-brimmed hat and wearing an eye-patch to hid his missing eye.

Odin carried a spear Gungnir made by the dwarves (sons of Ivaldi), while his ring called the Draupner (Ring of Power) was created by the twin dwarfs, Brokk and Eiti. His symbol was the valknut, a knotted device. Though, Odin had given Sigmund a powerful sword called Gram, which the drew out of oak tree Branstock, it was Odin who shattered Gram with Gungnir, when the hero battled the sons of Hunding. Other than Gungnir, Odin armed himself with a golden helmet and a fine coat of mail, which he wore at Ragnarok.

Odin rode a horse with eight legs named Sleipnir, an offspring of Loki (mare) and the giant stallion Svadilfari. It was Odin who appeared to the hero Sigurd, counselling the hero to chose the horse Grani, that Sleipnir had sired.

Since he could only drink wine, he gave all his food to two wolves Freki and Geri. Two ravens, Huginn ("Thought") and Muninn ("Memory"), often attended him, carrying tidings of the world.

Odin was also the father of Sigi, who was the grandfather of Völsung (Volsung). (See Völsunga Saga). It was he who put the sword Balmung (made by Wayland the Smith) in the mighty oak tree, Branstock. Only Völsung's youngest son, Sigmund, could draw the sword out of Branstock. The sword was supposed to allow the wielder to win all his wars. It was Odin who broke the sword in two, before Sigmund lost his final battle. The sword was restored by Sigmund's son, Sigurd. Sigurd renamed the reforged sword to Gram.

Odin had other mortal sons, where he had establish several powerful dynasties in north and western Europe. I had already mentioned Sigi, who was said to rule over France. There was also Veggdegg who became king of what is now called East Saxony, and Beldegg (Baldr), who ruled in Westphalia. Then Odin headed north, where he came upon called Reidgotaland, but was later changed to Jutland. Here, his son Skiold began a royal family, known as the Skioldungs, where they ruled in Denmark. In Sweden, he set up another son, named Yngvi, who established the Swedish house, called the Ynglings. In Norway, Odin had yet another son, named Sæming, who was the founder of the Norwegian kingdom. See genealogy of Houses of the Northern Kingdoms.

Odin could very well be the obscure figure Od, the husband of Freyja, since the name of Odin and Od have the same meaning, "Frenzy". Freyja had bore two daughters for Od, but he vanished one day. Freyja shed tears of gold because of his disappearance. Freyja wandered through the world, trying to find her husband.

In the myth about Freyja and the Brísingamen, she was the mistress of Odin.

Odin led the mystical band of horsemen in the Wild Hunt. They roamed at night, from Winter Night (October 31) to May Eve (April 30), particular on the night of the pagan Yule (December 21). Seeing them, meant it was likely to be your doom.

In Ragnarök (Ragnarok), Odin would be killed and devoured by giant wolf, Fenrir. His son, Vidar, avenged his death by killing Fenrir.

In Germanic myths, during the time of Romans, Odin was called Wodan (Woden). Odin inherited many of Wodan's attributes as well as Tiwaz (Tyr). The classical Roman writers identified Odin (Wodan) with Mercury, because Mercury's day was identical to that of Wodan's day (Wednesday).

 
Related Information
Name
Odin, Oðin, Odinn, Othin, Othinn – "frenzy" (Norse).
Wodan, Wotan (German).
Woden, Wôden (Anglo-Saxon).
Godan, Wotan (Lombard).


Aldafodur ("Father of All" or "All Father").
Alfodur ("Father of Men").
Valfodur ("Father of the Slain").
Havi ("High One").
Har ("One-eyed").
Sigtyr ("War-god" or "Victory-god").
Gangleri ("Wanderer").

Har ("High"), Iafnhar ("Equal-high" or "Just-as-high"), Thridi ("Third") (three guises of Odin in the Gylfaginning).
Gagnrad ("Advantage-counsel", guise in Vafthrudnismal).
Grimnir ("Masked One", guise in Grimnismal).
Harbard ("Grey-beard", guise in Harbardzljod).

Mercury (Roman).

    other names
Baleyg ("Flame-eyed"), Bileyg ("Weak-eyed"), Helblindi ("Hellblind), Farmatyr ("Burden-god"), Fimbultyr ("Mighty One"), Fiolsvid ("Much-wise"), Gauta-tyr, Glapsvid (Maddener), Grim ("Mask"), Herfodur ("Father of the Host"), Hialmberi ("Helm-wearer"), Hroptatyr ("Sage")Herian ("Warrior"), Heriar ("General"), Herteit ("War-merry"), Oski, Sidhott ("Broadhat"), Sidskegg ("Broadbeard"), Sigfodur ("War-father"), Svafnir, Svolnir, Thekk ("Known"), Unn?, Vegtam ("Way-tame"), Vidrir, Vidur, Ygg ("Terrible One").

Related Articles
See also Wodan.

Bor, Bestla, Ve (Lodur), Vili (Hœnir).
Frigg, Thor, Tyr, Loki, Baldr, Höd, Vali, Grid, Vidar, sons of Ivaldi, Fenrir.

Norse Creation, Gifts of the Dwarves, Search for Wisdom, Sacrifice: Hanging and Runes, Mead of Poetry, Head of Mimir, Ragnarök, Otter's Ransom.

Tiwaz, Donar, Mercury.

Runic Alphabets, Norse Festivals.


Odin
E. Burne-Jones
Illustration, c. 1870



Ve (Lodur)
 

Ve was the son of the giants, Bor and Bestla. Ve was sometimes called Lodur, Lodar or Lother. He along with his brothers, Odin and Vili (Hoenir), killed the giant Ymir and created the universe.

When they created mankind Lodur gave the gifts of senses and outward appearance, to the first man and woman.

 
Related Information
Name
Ve – "sacred enclosure",
Lodar, Lodur, Lother.

Related Articles
Bor, Bestla, Odin, Vili (Hoenir).

Norse Creation.



Vili (Hœnir)
 

Vili was the son of the giants, Bor and Bestla. Vili was sometimes called Hœnir (Hoenir or Haenir). Vili along with his brothers, Odin and Ve, killed the giant Ymir and created the universe.

As Hœnir, he gave the gifts of spirit and understanding to the first man and woman.

Snorri Sturluson referred to Haenir as the swift As and the long foot. He was also called the mud-king.

As Hœnir, he was one of the hostages to the Vanir, during the peace between the warring gods: Aesir and Vanir. As brother of Odin, he was fit to rule, but he was not very bright. He received frequent advice from the Mimir, the wisest of the Aesir. The Vanir became suspicion when he gave poor advice when Mimir was absent. The Vanir felt cheated, and decapitated Mimir, returning the head to the Aesir.

Again as Hoenir, he appeared in the Völsunga Saga (Volsunga Saga). Hoenir and Odin was held as hostages by Hreidmar, when Loki killed Hreidmar's son Otter (See Otter's Ransom).

Of the three brothers (and much of the elder generation of gods), only Vili (Hoenir) survived Ragnarök (Ragnarok).

 
Related Information
Name
Vili, Vilir.
Hœnir, Hoenir, Honir, Hænir, Haenir (Icelandic); Hone (Danish).

Related Articles
Bor, Bestla, Odin, Ve.

Norse Creation, Otter's Ransom, Ragnarök.



Thor
 

God of thunder and lightning. Thor was the son of Odin and the giantess Jörd (Jord), Fjörgyn (Fjorgyn) or Hlódyn (goddess of the earth). In the Harbaardzljod from the Poetic Edda, Thor told Harbard (Odin in disguise as a ferryman) that he had brother named Meili.

Thor married Sif, the golden-haired goddess. He was the father of a daughter, named Thrud. By his mistress, Jarnsaxa (Iarnsaxa, "iron-sax"), a giantess, he was the father of two sons, Magni and Modi.

His domain was Thrudvangar with 540 apartments. Thor has a hall which he resided, called Bilskirnir. His symbol was the device known as the swastika. Thor had a chariot drawn by two goats – Tanngniost and Tanngrisnir, Thor became known as Oku-Thor.

Thor also had two servants, Thialfi and Roskva, son and daughter of a farmer, named Egil, who had given hospitality to Thor and Loki. See Fighting Illusions. Thialfi appeared frequently, including in the myth about Hrungnir; see Giant of Clay.

Thor was always depicted as a massive and strong, bearded man with his mighty war-hammer Mjollnir that he can used to create thunderbolts. The Mjollnir was powerful weapon, which was used by throwing the hammer at his enemy, the hammer would always return magically to his hands, probably because he worn magical iron gloves, known as the Járngreipr. The twin dwarfs, Brokk and Eiti, created the Mjollnir.

What made Thor seemingly invincible was that he also wears the Megingjarpar (girdle of might), that adds him his already enormous strength. This girdle was given to Thor by the giantess Grid, when the giant Gerrod stole Mjollnir. Grid also gave Thor a pair of iron gloves (Járngreipr) and an unbreakable staff, known as Grídarvöl.

Thor was the mightiest of the gods, and he was their greatest champion. His chief enemies were the giants from Jötunheim (Jotunheim). Often the stories of Thor were concern with the god killing one giant or another in various adventure.

Thor was also renown for his great appetite. (See Thrym, for the amusing story, when he lost Mjollnir and disguised himself as the goddess Freyja, to retrieve the hammer from the giants).

You will find many of Thor's adventures in the page titled Of Thor and Giants.

His greatest enemy was called Jörmungand (Jormungand) or Jörmungandr, commonly known as the Midgard Serpent (World Serpent). He failed to kill Jörmungand, in an early encounter (See Fishing Expedition in Of Thor and Giants). During the final battle of the gods (Ragnarök), Thor and Jörmungand would kill one another.

Thor enjoys greater popularity than Odin does, particularly in the rural area. And since he was god of thunderstorm he was similar to the Roman god, Jupiter or Jove (Zeus). Thursday was named after Thor or Thunor, matching Jove's day.

Snorri made a strange comparison, identifying Thor with Hector, the Trojan hero. Just as Hector was the champion of the Trojans, Thor was the champion of the Aesir.

 
Related Information
Name
Thor, þórr (Norse).
Donar (German).
Thunaer, Thunær, Thunor, or Thonar (Saxon).


Asa-Thor ("Thor of the Aesir").
Oku-Thor ("driving-Thor").
Chariot-Tyr ("chariot-god")

Jupiter (Roman).
Hector (Greek/Roman).

    other names
Asabrag, Atli, Biorn, Ennilang, Hardveur, Hlorridi, Rym, Sonnung, Vingnir.

Related Articles
See also Donar.

Odin, Fjörgyn, Sif, Freyja, Loki, Thrym.

Gifts of the Dwarves, Fighting Illusion, Giant of Clay, Fishing Expedition, Blushing Bride, Ragnarök.

Wodan, Jupiter.


Thor holding his war-hammer Bronze statuette
AD 1000, Iceland
Statens Historiska Museum, Stockholm



Tyr
 

One-handed god of war. Tyr was possibly the son of Odin and of Frigg or the giantess Fjörgyn (Fjorgyn), and younger of brother of Thor. Snorri Sturluson says that his father was Odin in the keening of Tyr. Otherwise he was known as the son of the giant Hymir, particularly in the poem called Hymiskvida of the Poetic Edda.

Tyr seemed to be one of the earliest gods to be worshiped by the Teutonic people, known as Tiw or Tiwaz. Tiwaz (Tyr) was the most important god to the Germans at the height of Roman power, as the chief sky-god, the god of war and justice. In Scandinavia, however, Odin supplanted Tyr as supreme gods. Odin inherited many of Tiwaz's duties as the war-god, reducing Tyr to secondary role.

Tyr was also patron god of justice and the formality of war, particularly of fair treaties. Tyr had reputation of keeping his oath, guarantee of good faith. He was often seen carrying either a sword or spear of justice.

Unlike the Greek god Ares, Tyr was the bravest of all the gods. He was the god of courage and boldness. Tyr sacrificed his hand in an early encounter with Fenrir, an offspring of Loki and the giantess Angerboda. In order to bind Fenrir, the gods pretend to play game with the monster, Tyr placed his hand in the mouth of the giant wolf. However, when Fenrir found that he was been tricked and it was no game at all, he bit off Tyr's hand. Thereafter, Tyr was known as the One-handed As and feeder of the wolf.

In the Lokasenna, Loki not only accused Tyr of dishonesty in dealing, since he lost his right hand to Fenrir, but he also told Tyr that his wife had an affair with him (Loki). This unnamed wife gave birth to Loki's son.


Tyr died from wounds during his fight against Garm; a giant hell-hound that he killed at Ragnarök (Ragnarok).

The Romans identified Tyr or Tiwaz (German) with their own god of war, Mars (Ares). They were both celebrated on Tuesday (Tyr's day).

 
Related Information
Name
Tyr, Týr (Norse).
Tiwaz, Tîwaz (German).
Tiw, Tiv, Tiu (Anglo-Saxon).
Tyz (Gothic).

Mars (Roman).

Related Articles
See also Tiwaz.

Odin, Frigg, Fjörgyn, Hymir, Thor, Fenrir, Garm.

Fishing Expedition, Monsters Bound, Ragnarök.

Wodan, Mars.


Tyr
Viking matrix from the 8th century
Statens Historiska Museum, Stockholm



Njörd
 

God of wind and sea. Njörd (Njord) was also patron god of good fortune for sailors and hunting. Sailors prayed to Njörd when they set out on a voyage. Like his son and daughter, Njörd was originally a Vanir deity before he became a Aesir god.

See Vanir, for more detail on Njörd.

 
 



Freyr (Lord)
 

God of light (sun), fertility and prosperity. He was also the god of rain and agriculture. Like his father and sister, Freyr was originally a Vanir deity before he became an Aesir god.

See Vanir, for more detail on Freyr.

 
 



Heimdall
 

Heimdall was known as the White As ("As" is singular for Aesir). Heimdall was the son of the Nine Waves (nine giantesses, who were sisters; this mean that Heimdall had nine mothers). The Nine Waves were the nine daughters of Aegir.

Heimdall was also known as Rig, creator of mankind or the human society. He was known also by two other names – Hallinskidi and Gullintanni.

Heimdall was the warder of the entrance to Asgard: the rainbow bridge called Bifröst (Bifrost or Bilrost). He dwelled in his hall Himinbjörg (Himinbiorg – "Cliff of the Hills" or "Heavenly Fall"), at the edge of Asgard, near Bifröst.

Heimdall had super-sharp eyesight and hearing. He was the never-sleeping watchman, whose duties to prevent giants from entering Asgard. His sword was called Heimdall's Head (Hofund). He also watched and possessed the horn called Gjallahorn. When Heimdall blows Gjallahorn, it would to signify and warn the other gods of the coming of Ragnarök (Ragnarok).

When Loki stolen the Brísingamen from Freyja, it was Heimdall who recovered the necklace for the goddess.

Like Odin, Heimdall also drank from the Mimir's well. Heimdall gave up one of his ears.

In the final confrontation between the gods and the evil giants, riding his horse Gulltopp and armed with his sword Hofund, Heimdall and Loki would kill one another in the fighting.

 
Related Information
Name
Heimdall, Heimdal – "world-brightener".
Rig, Rigr, Rígr.

Hallinskidi, Gullintanni.

Related Articles
Rig. Nine Waves, Aegir, Loki, Freyja, Mimir, Brisings.

Asgard, Midgard, Brísingamen, Ragnarök.


Heimdall
(Sorry, no information available)



Loki
 

God of fire. Loki (Lopt) was the son of the giant Fárbautia (Farbautia, "Cruel-Striker") and the giantess Laufey ("Tree Island") or Nal. Loki was a brother of Byleist and Helblindi.

Loki was married to Sigyn, he was father of Narfi (Narvi) and Vali. (Don't confuse this Vali with the son of Odin and Rind.)

By the giantess, Angerboda ("Distress Bringer"), Loki became the father of Hel, goddess of death; Jörmungand (Jormungand), the evil Misgard Serpent; and Fenrir, the giant wolf.

Loki was also the mother of Sleipnir, by the stallion Svadilfari. Loki had transformed himself into a mare to lure Svadilfari away from his owner, the giant Hrimthurs, to prevent the giant from finishing construction of Asgard and losing the wager. (See Construction of Asgard in Norse Creation).

Loki was known as the Trickster and Shape-changer. Though, his origin was that of the frost giant, since he became Odin's blood brother, Loki was a very important member of the Aesir. (There are some confusion and argument, whether he was a god or not. If he was a god, whether he was a Aesir or not. Anyway, I put him down as one.)

None of the gods like him, but he was allowed to attend the feasts held in Asgard, since Odin and Loki became blood brothers. He was cunning and resourceful god, often helping Odin and the other gods, though often causing more trouble and embarrassment.

Originally, he was a mischievous god but not an evil god. However, Loki was a god who likes to play practical joke on the gods and human. Like when he cut beautiful golden hair of Sif.

Loki also appeared in the Völsunga Saga (Volsunga Saga), when he killed Hreidmar's son, Otter. Odin and Hoenir were held as hostage until Loki can find the ransom to release the two gods. Loki forced the dwarf, Andvari, to give up all his treasure. (See Otter's Ransom)




Later his role became darker and more sinister, representing the evil god as opposed to the Aesir, gods of good. He was indirectly involved with death of Balder. Loki tricked Frigg in revealing his son's weakness and had Frigg's other son Hod to throw the mistletoe at his brother, killing Balder instantly.

To punish Loki, the gods bound the fire god in a cavern. Venom from a serpent would drip on his head, causing tremendous agony and such great spasm, that the whole earth shook. His loyal wife, Sigyn stayed with him, catching the venom in a cup. Loki's respite was short, since Sigyn had to empty the cup whenever it was full, which resulted in the venom dripping on his head again. (See Death of Balder for the full story.)

At Ragnarök (Ragnarok), he would escape from his imprisonment, and lead the war against the gods. Loki would kill Heimdall, but he himself would die at Heimdall's hand.

Snorri compared Loki with Ulysses (Odysseus), the Greek hero, because Loki was cunning and deceitful.

 
Related Information
Name
Loki, Lopt – "Trickster".

Hvedrung.

Ulysses (Greek/Roman).

Related Articles
Odin, Angerboda, Balder, Frigg, Hel, Thor, Sif, Hrimthurs, Thrym, sons of Ivaldi, Brokk and Eiti, Brisings.

Midgard Serpent, Fenrir.

Asgard, Gifts of the Dwarves, Death of Balder, Ragnarök, Brísingamen, Otter's Ransom.


Punishment of Loki
19th century illustration



Ull
 

God of justice, hunting and duelling. Ull was the son of Sif, wife of Thor. Ull later married Skadi, a giantess and ex-wife of Njörd (Njord). Ull lived in Ydalir (Yew Dales or Yewdale), in Asgard.

Ull was excellent archer and taught man how to ski and was the inventor of snowshoes. Ull was known variously as ski-As, bow-As, hunting As and shield-As.

 
Related Information
Name
Ull, Ullr – "Glory".
Ollerus.

Related Articles
Sif, Thor, Njörd.

Bragi
 

God of poetry. Bragi was the son of Odin and the giantess Gunnlod. Bragi married to Idun, the goddess of spring and youth. Bragi was also the god of eloquence.

Bragi was one of the speakers (the other was Aegir) in the dialogue in Snorri's Edda, called Skaldskaparmal ("Language of Poetry"), which related to many tales of the Aesir and mankind.

Bragi was referred to as the long-bearded As.

 
Related Information
Name
Bragi.

Related Articles
Idun, Odin.



Forseti
 

Law-maker and god of justice. Forseti was the son of Balder and Nanna, the daughter of Nep.

Forseti acted like a judge, arbiter of disputes; often seen settling differences between gods and men. Foresti presided at the hall called Glitnir.

 
Related Information
Name
Forseti, Forsetti, Forsite – "chairman".

Related Articles
Balder.



Vidar
 

Vidar was the son of Odin and the giantess Grid "peace". Vidar was known as the silent god or silent As, because he rarely talks. Vidar was second strongest As, after Thor. Vidar lived in Brushwood. Brushwood was either the name of his hall or else it is his land, since it say in the Eddaic poem:

Brushwood grows and high grass
widely in Vidar's land;
and there the son proclaims on his horse's back
that he's keen to avenge his father.

Grimmar's Sayings 17 from the Poetic Edda
translated by Carolyne Larrington

His mother gave him special iron shoes that he would wear in Ragnarök (Ragnarok). Vidar avenged his father death at Ragnarök, by killing the giant wolf Fenrir. The shoes protected him from being devoured by Fenrir. In the monster's mouth, Vidar would stand in lower jaw, while gripping the upper jaw with his bare hands. Then Vidar tore Fenrir's mouth apart. Vidar was one of the survivors of Ragnarök.

Snorri compared Vidar with Aeneas, the Trojan hero, because Vidar survived Ragnarök, as Aeneas had when Troy fell.

 
Related Information
Name
Vidar – "wide ruler".

Aeneas (Greek/Roman).

Related Articles
Odin, Grid, Thor, Höd. Fenrir.

Ragnarök.



Vali
 

Vali was the son of Odin and the giantess Rind. (Vali should not be confused with the son of Loki and Sigyn, who also was named Vali).

When his half-brother Höd (Hod) killed Vali's other half-brother Balder, Rind gave birth to Vali on that very same day. Before Vali was one night old, the infant grew to man-size, and killed Höd as revenge for Balder's death. He was therefore called Balder's avenger or avenging As. (See Death of Balder for the full story.)

Vali survived Ragnarök (Ragnarok).

 
Related Information
Name
Vali, Ali.

Related Articles
Odin, Rind, Balder, Höd.

Death of Balder, Ragnarök.



Balder
 

Dying god. Balder (Baldr or Balðr) was the son of Odin and Frigg. He was brother of Höd (Hod). Balder married Nanna, the daughter of Nep. They had a son, named Forseti. Balder dwelled in a palace called Breidablik with his wife, in Asgard.

Balder was the god of beauty. He was the most beloved of all the the gods. However, through the prophecy and Balder's dreams, the gods found that he would die. His mother, Frigg, set about asking and extracting an oath on all creature, plant and all inanimate materials in the world, to not harm her son. Frigg did not think of a mistletoe could harm her son, so she did not get an oath from the harmless plant. Loki managed to get the information from Frigg.

In Asgard, the gods normally played game which they thought was quite amusing. They would throw rock, spear, sword or whatever object at Balder. None of these object would harm the young god. Only Hod did not play, because he was blind. Loki came to the blind god, and asked him to play with his brother. Loki gave the mistletoe to Hod. Loki directed Hod throw. Hod threw the mistletoe at Balder with all his strength. The onlookers watched in horror when Balder, pierced by the plant, was killed instantly.

Hel, goddess of the dead, agreed to released Balder, allowing the young god to live, if every creatures would mourned, and shed tears for Balder. All the creatures in the world wept for Balder, except the giantess named Thokk or Thanks, refused to even shed a single tear for the god. Hel refused to released Balder. Loki was punished for his involvement with Balder's death. (See Death of Balder for the full story.)

Nanna was totally devastated and grief stricken. She wasted away and died.

After Ragnarok, Balder was reborn, heralding the beginning of a new age.


Balder was also worshipped by the Germans. Balder was one of the seven gods, listed in the Second Merseburg Charm, a German manuscript from c. AD 900. Balder's horse sprained its foot, and the passage was supposedly a way to cure sprain, by listing the gods' names. Other gods listed in the Charm were – Wodan (Odin), Frija (Frigg), Volla (Fulla), Phol, Sinthgunt and Sunna. The identities of the last three names are unknown, but there some speculation that Phol was another name for Balder.

 
Related Information
Name
Balder, Baldur, Baldr.

Related Articles
Odin, Frigg, Höd, Forseti, Loki.

Death of Balder, Ragnarök.


Death of Balder
C. Eckersberg
Oil on canvas, 1840



Höd
 

Blind god. Höd (Hod) was the son of Odin and Frigg. Höd was the brother of Balder. He was god of winter and darkness.

Loki tricked Höd in throwing mistletoe at his brother, the only object that could kill Balder. Vali avenged Balder's death, by killing Höd. (See Death of Balder for the full story.)

 
Related Information
Name
Höd, Höðr Hod, Hoder, Hodur, Hodr.

Related Articles
Odin, Frigg, Balder, Loki, Vali.

Death of Balder, Ragnarök.



Hermod
 

Messenger of the gods. Hermod was the son of Odin and Frigg. Hermod was the brother of Balder and Höd (Hod).

When his blind brother Hod killed his other brother Balder, only Hermod dared to go to the world of the dead, seeking audience with Hel, the goddess of the dead. Hermod asked Hel to allow Balder to return among the living gods. Hel consent only if every creature shed at least a single tear for Balder, to prove that he was most beloved of the gods.

Hermod failed when one giantess refused to cry for Balder. Balder remained in Hel's domain until after Ragnarok. (See Death of Balder for the full story.)

Hermod probably survived Ragnarök (Ragnarok).

 
Related Information
Name
Hermod.

Related Articles
Odin, Frigg, Balder, Hod, Hel.

Death of Balder, Ragnarök.



Mimir
 

The wisest gods of the Aesir. During the peace between to warring tribes of gods, Aesir and Vanir, the two sides exchanged hostages. The Aesir received Njörd (Njord) and Freyr, while the Vanir received Mimir and Hoenir. When they discovered that Hoenir only seemed wise, due to Mimir secretly giving Hoenir advice, the angry Vanir had Mimir decapitated. Mimir's head was returned to the Aesir. The head was preserved and Odin often used to gain wisdom. See the War Against Vanir and the Head of Mimir.

There was a different story on how Odin gains knowledge. Beneath the Yggdrasill (World Tree) was a well called Mímisbrunnr (Well of Mimir). In order to drink the water from the well and gain knowledge, Odin had to sacrifice one of his eyes. See Sacrifice: Hanging and Runes.

 
Related Information
Name
Mimir, Mimír (Icelandic).
Mime (Danish).

Related Articles
Odin, Hoenir, Njörd, Freyr.

War of Aesir and Vanir, Head of Mimir, Sacrifice: Hanging and Runes.



Magni and Modi
 

Magni and Modi were the two sons of Thor and the giantess Jarnsaxa (Iarnsaxa, "Ironwood").

Magni's strength almost match that of his father. Magni was given the horse called Gullfaxi, "Golden Mane", when he rescued his father from the frost giant Hrungnir. See Giant of Clay.

Apart from his association with his father (Thor) and brother Magni, and that he survived Ragnarok, not much is known about Modi. Magni and Modi survived Ragnarök, inheriting their father's hammer, Mjollnir. Modi appeared to be both a poet and a warrior, in the kennings found in Snorri Sturluson's Prose Edda.

 
Related Information
Name
Magni ("Mighty").

Modi.

Sources
Prose Edda was written by Snorri Sturluson.

Vafthrudnismal (Vafthrudnir's Sayings) from the Poetic Edda.

Hymiskvida from the Poetic Edda.

Harbardzljod from the Poetic Edda.

Related Articles
Thor.

Giant of Clay, Ragnarök.







Asyniur

The Asyniur (Asynior) was feminine name for the Aesir (plural). An individual goddess was called Asynia. Here are list of Aesir goddesses.

  Frigg
  Freyja, see the Vanir page
  Sif
  Idun
  Jörd (Fjörgyn)
  Rind    
  Gefjon
  Fulla
  Thrud
  Sol and Moon
  Other Asyniur


Genealogy: Family Tree of Norse Deities and Giants




Frigg
 

Goddess of marriage, fertility and childbirth. Frigg was the daughter of Fjorgvin. (While others say that she was the daughter of Jörd (Fjörgyn), goddess of the earth, therefore, Frigg was possibly the sister of Thor.)

She lived in the hall Fensalir, where she was attended by her handmaiden, Fulla ("Bountiful"), who was also an Asynia (female Aesir).

Like the Greek goddess Hera, she was queen of heaven, as wife and consort of Odin. She was the mother of Balder (dying god), Höd (blind-god) and Hermod (herald of the gods). Though, Odin had slept with many goddesses, giantesses and mortal women, unlike Hera, Frigg was never jealous of Odin's frequent love affairs.

In the Lokasenna, Loki accused Frigg of being as shameless and wanton as Freyja. Whenever Odin was absence, Loki contemptuously pointed out that she would sleep with Odin's brothers, Vili and Ve. Snorri also wrote in the Ynglinga Saga of the arrangement between Frigg and Odin's brothers.

She was the weeping mother goddess, because her blind son, Höd (Hod), accidentally killed her other son. It was foretold that Balder could die. Frigg wandered the world and exacted an oath from all-living creature and inanimate object to not harm her son. Frigg thought the shrub, the mistletoe, was too insignificant to harm her son. Unfortunately, she did not bother to exact oath from the mistletoe.

Loki disguised himself as a woman, found out Balder's weakness from Frigg. Loki then tricked Höd into throwing mistletoe, the only object that could harm Balder.

Even though Balder was dead, Frigg was determined to free him from Hel. She learned that Hel would release Balder, allowing him to live, if every creatures in the world shed tears for Frigg's son. Frigg asked every creature to mourn for Balder. Only one giantess named Thokk or Thanks refused to weep, therefore Balder remained dead. Loki was punished for his involvement with Balder's death. (See Death of Balder in the Ragnarok for the full story.)

Some writers Frigg confused with the former Vanir, Freyja. The Roman and the German knew her as Frija or Frea, and the Roman had called Friday after Frigg.

 
Related Information
Name
Frigg, Frigga, Friia – "Lady" (Norse).
Frija, Frea (German).

Hlin?

Related Articles
See also Frija.

Odin, Balder, Höd, Hermod, Loki, Fulla, Vili, Ve.

Death of Balder.

Woden.


Frigg
Giovanni Caselli
Illustration, 1978



Freyja (Lady)
 

Goddess of love, beauty and fertility. Freyja was also the goddess of witchcraft and war. Like her father and brother, Freyja was originally a Vanir deity before she became a Aesir goddess (Asynia).

See Vanir, for more detail on Freyja.

 
 



Sif
 

Goddess of corn and fertility(?). She was goddess with beautiful golden hair. Not much is known about Sif. Sif was possibly a Vanir goddess originally, like the goddess Freyja.

Sif was the wife and consort of Thor. She had a son named Ull.

Originally, Sif was probably a prophetess known as the Sibyl, which Snorri Sturluson mentioned in the prologue of the Prose Edda. This Sibyl married Tror (Thor), who she had met in the realm of Thrace, which Sturluson called Thrudheim. If this is truly the case, then she became the goddess of prophecy and divination, though in the usual Norse mythology, she doesn't appeared to have any gift with divination.

One story told about her, tell how Loki had cut off her hair as practical joke. In a rage, Thor would have bash Loki to death, if the trickster did not restore Sif's hair.

Loki went to the dwarves, sons of Ivaldi. The dwarves made a wig with hair made of finely spun gold. The magic in the wig, allowed the gold to grow like natural hair. The gift was only just one of several that the dwarves had made for the gods.

See Gifts of the Dwarves for the full story.

 
Related Information
Name
Sif.
Sibyl?

Related Articles
Thor, Ull, Freyja, Loki, sons of Ivaldi.



Idun
 

Goddess of youth and spring. Idun (Idunn) was the keeper of the golden apples of youth, that kept the gods young and immortal.

In the Lokasenna, Loki accused Idun of sleeping with her brother's killer. Who was Idun's brother, we don't know. There is no mention of even Idun's parents. It is for this reason, there is a possibility that Idun was originally a Vanir goddess, but became an Asynia (Aesir goddess) when she married Bragi, the god of poetry.

One story was that the giant Thiassi, builder of Valhalla, demanded from Loki the goddess Idun and her golden apples as payment. Loki abducted Idun and stole her basket containing apples for Thiassi. Without the apples, the Aesir began to age. During the council, the gods compelled Loki to bring Idun and the apples back.

Loki turned himself into a falcon, and flew to Thiassi's home. Loki waited while Thiassi was distracted before entering the home. He changed Idun into a nut, before fleeing back to Asgard. Idun returned with the apples, and the gods were restored to youthful look.

See the Apples of Youths in Of Thor and Giants.

 
Related Information
Name
Idun, Idunn, Iðunn, Iduna – "rejuvenator".

Related Articles
Bragi, Loki.

Apples of Youths.


Idun
Arthur Rackham
Illustration, 1910



Jörd (Fjörgyn)
 

Goddess of the earth. Jörd (Jord or Iord) was a personification of Earth. Jörd was also called Fjörgyn (Fjorgyn), Hlódyn (Hlodyn) or Erda. Jörd had been identified with the Germanic earth goddess Hertha, also known as Nerthus.

Jörd was the daughter of Annar (Onar) and a giantess, named Nott ("Night"). It is very likely that Jörd might be a giantess.

Jörd was probably Odin's first wife, since their son Thor, was the eldest son of Odin. Jörd was probably also the mother of Meili, since Meili was called the brother of Thor. Snorri, the Icelandic poet, kept calling Jörd – Svolnir's widow. Apparently, Svolnir was Odin's name. Snorri offered no other detail.

There is some confusion that she may be the mother of the goddess Frigg, because her name, Fjörgyn, was confused with Fjorgvin. Fjorgvin was Frigg's father.

 
Related Information
Name
Jörd – "Earth". Jörd, Jord, Jördr, Iord, Fjörgyn, Fjorgyn, Fiorgyn, Hlódyn, Hlodyn, Erda (Norse).

Hertha, Aertha (German).

Related Articles
Nott (Night), Odin, Thor, Frigg.


Erda (Fjorgyn or Jord)
Arthur Rackham
Illustration, 1912



Rind
 

Rind was the mother of Vali, by Odin. Rind gave birth to Vali, just after Balder's death. Vali grew man or giant-size overnight, to avenge Balder and killed Hod. Rind was sometimes seen as the sun goddess, but she was possibly the goddess of the frozen earth.

In Gesta Danorum (History of the Danes), Saxo recounted a different version of Balder's death, where Rind was called her Rinda or Wrinda, daughter of the King of the Ruthenians.

Odin sought out diviners or prophets to find out to avenge Balder's death. On receiving the answer from the oracle, Odin went disguised as a warrior to serve the king, in the hope win friendship of the king and win a kiss from the king's daughter. He did win the king's favour to sought Rinda's attention, because he was instrumental in the defeats of the Ruthenian king's enemies. Yet, when Odin tried to kiss her, he received a cuff from Rinda.

So Odin disguised as a poor smith with wondrous skills, calling himself Roster (Hrosstheow), making adornments for women at the palace, particularly for Rinda. One day, when he presented Rinda with a beautiful bracelet, and tried to gain a kiss from her, she cuffed Odin again.

Though, twice rebuffed by the maiden, Odin was persistence, and return to the palace, as a maiden this time, named Wecha, a physician or medicine woman, to serve as Rinda's servant in the her mother's household.

One day, Rinda fell ill. Odin/Wecha diagnosed the illness and informed the king that he has the medicine, but the very bitter drug would caused violent reaction, so Rind have to be bound. So the king himself binds his daughter to the bed; he did not recognise Odin, since he assumed Wecha to be a woman. Then instead of curing the helpless girl, Odin raped Rinda. Seeing his own child being raped, didn't stop the king also violating his own daughter. When Rinda became pregnant, the king assumed that the child was his, but in reality it belonged to Odin.

Due to the rape of Rinda, Odin lost his throne as king of Asgard (which Saxo called Byzantium), and replaced by Oller (Wulder). Odin was forced into exile, but returned 10 years later to oust Oller. In Saxo's account, Vali's name is Boe, and Odin urged Boe to avenge his brother's death. Boe did so, killing Hother (Hod).

 
Related Information
Name
Rind (Icelandic).
Rinda, Wrinda, Rhlda (Danish).

Sources
Prose Edda was written by Snorri Sturluson.

Baldrs draumar ("Dream of Balder") from the Poetic Edda.

Gesta Danorum was written by Saxo Grammaticus.

Related Articles
Odin, Vali, Balder, Hod.



Gefjon
 

Goddess of agriculture. Gefjon was also called Gefion, Gefiun or Gefinn. Gefjon was also the goddess of fertility.

Gefjon may have been a virgin goddess, who was a patron goddess and protectress of the virgins after deaths. Though in the Lokasenna, Loki had accused Gefjon of spreading her legs to a mortal lover, for a gold necklace, like Freyja.

Gefjon was the founder of the dynasty in Denmark and Zeeland.

 
Related Information
Name
Gefjon, Gefion, Gefiun, Gefinn.

Related Articles
Loki, Freyja.



Fulla
 

Fulla was possibly the sister of Frigg. In Frigg's hall of Fensalir, Fulla was Frigg's attendant. No matter how powerful a god or goddess, no one could see Frigg in Fensalir without her permission.

Her name appeared as Volla with six other deities in the Merseburg Charms, preserved in a manuscript found in Saxony (c. 900).

 
Related Information
Name
Fulla – "Bountiful" (Norse).
Volla (Saxon).

Related Articles
Frigg.



Thrud
 

Goddess of power and strength. Thrud was the daughter of Thor and Sif.

Thor prevented the marriage between Thrud and a dwarf named Alvis; her father delayed the wedding before turning the dwarf into stone.

 
Related Information
Name
Thrud, Thrudr.

Related Articles
Thor, Sif.



Sol and Moon
 

Moon and Sol were brother and sister. Sol (Sun) was the goddess of the sun, while her brother Moon was the god of the moon. Sol was also called Alfrodul. In German myth, Sol was called Ostara, while Moon was called Mani.

In the Second Merseberg Charm, written in the 9th century Old High German, Sol was referred to, with the name Sunna, and Sunna being the sister of the goddess Sinthgunt, who was possibly the goddess of moon. Sinthgunt, along with the goddess Frija (Frigg) and Wodan (Odin) were names invoked in the charm to heal the sprained ankle of Baldur's (Baldr's) horse.

They were the offspring of Mundilfaeri. Sol was the wife of Glen, but the gods did not favour this marriage.

Sol and Moon was placed in the sky. Sol drove in a chariot drawn by two horses: Arvak and Alsvinn. Her chariot was like the sun that moved across the sky.

While Moon had a male and female companion, named Hiuki and Bil, children of Vidfinn, carrying a tub (Saeg) on their shoulders from the well or spring called Byrgir.

Sol was chased by a giant wolf called Skoll, while Hati Hrodvitniddon pursued the moon. One of the signs that Ragnarök was almost upon the gods, was that the two wolves would devour the brother and sister, causing the world to fall in darkness and winter to last for a whole year.

After Ragnarök, Sol's daughter would take over her role, riding the sun-chariot across the sky, so a new sun was born.

 
Related Information
Name
Sol, Sun.
Alfrodul.
Ostara (Germanic).
Sunna (Old High German).

Moon.
Mani (Germanic).

Related Articles
See also Ostara.

Skoll and Hati.

Ragnarök.

Facts and Figures: Astronomy.



Other Asyniur
 

The following Asyniur were mentioned by Snorri Sturluson in the Prose Edda. Not much else are known about these goddesses.




Gerd

A mountain giantess who married Freyr. known for her great beauty. For more detail, see Giants, Gerd.


Saga

Not much is known about Saga except that she dwell in large hall, called Sokkvabekk. She maybe the goddess of prophecy.


Eir

Eir was the goddess of healing, and patroness of physicians.


Siofn

Siofn or Sjofn was the goddess of love or affection. Her name means siafni – "affection".


Lofn

Lofn was the goddess of union or agreement between man and woman (engagement?).


Var

Var was another goddess of agreement, as well as answering prayer of private oaths.


Vor

Vor was possibly the goddess of intelligence or wisdom, as well as of omniscience.


Syn

Syn was the goddess of doors to hall. She was supposed to prevent intruders from disrupting assembly, by keeping the doors closed; therefore she was the goddess of denial.


Snotra

Snotra was another goddess of wisdom. Snotra was also the goddess of courtesy.


Hlin

Hlin was the goddess or attendant of Frigg, and her duty was to rescue anyone that Frigg wished to save. Hlin was also the goddess of refuge.


Gna

Gna was another assistant of Frigg, and was probably the messenger-goddess for Frigg. Gna owned a horse, named Hofvarpnir that can travel across the sky or sea.


Bil

Bil was probably the same person who assist Moon (Mani). She was the goddess of the waxing moon.

   








Non-Æsir Deities

Here are some of the gods who didn't to the Aesir or the Vanir. I also placed any deity of unknown status in this section, because I am uncertain if he or she was an Aesir deity or not.

  Aegir
  Ran
  Nott (Night)
  Hel
  Norns     


Genealogy: Family Tree of Norse Deities and Giants




Aegir
 

God of the sea and ocean.

He dwelled in the hall at the bottom of the sea nears the island of Hler (or Hlesey), with his wife and consort, Ran. Aegir was also called Hler and Gymir. It is uncertain, if he was an Aesir god, because Snorri Sturluson doesn't include his name in the list, even though his wife was in the list of Asyniur (female Aesir).

Aegir was the father of the nine daughters, known as the Nine Waves (nine giantesses). His daughters became the mothers of his grandson – Heimdall. Their names are given below:

Himinglæva "heaven-reacher"
Dufa "dipping"
Blodughadd, Blóðughadda "bloody hair"
Hefring "goat"
Unn, Unnr, Uð "wave"
Hronn "wave"
Bylgia "billow"
Drofn "comber" or "foaming sea"
Kolga "cool wave"


Aegir was one of the speakers (the other was Bragi) in the dialogue in Snorri's Edda, called Skaldskaparmal ("Language of Poetry"), which related to many tales of the Aesir and mankind.

Aegir often hold feast or banquet for the gods, in his hall. His servants were named Fimafeng and Eldir. To ensure that all his guest had enough ales for his feast, he sent Thor to fetch a cauldron from the giant Hymir.

 
Related Information
Name
Aegir, Ægir.
Hler, Gymir.

Related Articles
Ran, Heimdall, Bragi, Thor, Hymir.



Ran
 

Goddess of the sea. Ran married Aegir and his consort. Ran was the mother of the Nine Waves, and grandmother of the Aesir god Heimdall. She may very well be an Asynia.

Ran gathered seafarers in her net having carrying them to the bottom of the sea in a whirlpool.

 
Related Information
Name
Ran.

Related Articles
Aegir, Nine Waves, Heimdall.


Ran
Arthur Rackham
Illustration, 1910



Nott
 

Nott or Night, was the goddess of night. Nott was the daughter of a giant named Norfi or Narfi, but two Eddaic poems called Nott's father, Norr.

Nott had three husbands, and had a child with each of her husband. Her first husband was a giant, called Naglfari, and they had a son named Aud.

Her second husband was named Annar (Onar), who was probably also a giant, and they had a daughter, named Jörd (Earth), the mother of Thor.

Her last husband belonged to the Aesir and he was named Delling. Their son was named Day (Dag), god of day.

When the Aesir created the world, Odin gave a chariot to her and another chariot to her son Day. They travelled the sky, following one another, as day follow night. Her horse was called Hrimfaxi, "Frost-mane", which caused dew from the horse's bit. While her son's horse was called Skinfaxi, which means "Shining-mane", because the mane was so radiant that it brought light to the world.

I am not sure if Nott was an Asynia or not, so placed I have placed her here.

 
Related Information
Name
Nott – "Night".

Sources
Prose Edda was written by Snorri Sturluson.

Vafthrudnismal (Vafthrudnir's Sayings) from the Poetic Edda.

Related Articles
Jörd, Odin.


Nott, Goddess of Night
Giovanni Caselli
Illustration, 1978



Hel
 

Goddess of the dead. Hel was the daughter of Loki and Angerboda. She was the sister of Jörmungand (Jormungand), the evil Misgard Serpent, and Fenrir, the giant wolf.

Snorri says that half of her body was black, and the other half was normal skin colour, so it was really easy to recognise the goddess. Her demeanour was usually downcast and grim.

Hel was never an Aesir deity, but I had no place to put her. Having heard about the prophecy in regarding to Loki's children. Odin threw her into the netherworld, which was named after her – Hel; this is like the Greek Underworld being called Hades, after the lord of the Dead. The Underworld was also called Niflhel, "Dark Hel"; Niflhel shouldn't be confused with Niflheim, the cold world of darkness, one of the nine worlds.

Hel had absolute control over her realm. Even Odin could not command her to release any of the dead to him, once they find their way into her domain. The dead that were alloted to her were the people who died of sickness or old age.

The world of the dead was guarded by a hell-hound called Garm. Her hall was called Eliudnir and her threshold was called Stumbling-block. She possessed a dish called Hunger and a knife called Famine. The bed was called Sick-bed and her curtains, Gleaming-bale. Hel had two attendants: her servant Ganglati, and Ganglot was her serving-maid.

When Loki tricked the blind god Hod into killing his twin brother Balder, the only god brave enough to ride into her domain was Hermod. Hermod made an request for Hel to release Balder, his half-brother so that he live again. Hel agreed only if every creature, plants and rocks would shed a single tear in mourning for Balder. Only the giantess named Thokk or Thanks refused to shed a single tear for Balder, so Hel kept the dead god of light, but only until after Ragnarok. See the Death of Balder.

 
Related Information
Name
Hel, Hela.

Related Articles
Loki, Angerboda, Jörmungand, Fenrir, Garm, Balder, Hermod.


Hel
Giovanni Caselli
Illustration, 1978



Norns
 

Norns were goddesses of destiny or fate. They were responsible for guarding the Well of Urda (Urdarbrunnr), one of the three wells under the Yggdrasil (World Tree). Snorri Sturluson, who wrote in the Prose Edda, said that it was also called "Weird's well". The well was holy, and the Aesir often gathered there to hold court.

Like their Greek and Roman counterparts, there were three goddesses associated with fate. These three goddesses were named Urda ("past", also Urd, Weird or Wyrd), Verdani ("present"), and Skuld ("future"). The norns were descended from the Aesir. In the Voluspa, they were not given their names, but the poem did call them "Fated", "Becoming" and "Must-be".

The Norns were depicted in three stage of womanhood. Verdani as a young maiden, Skuld as mature woman or a mother, and Urda as an old hag. However, the Voluspa (20) say they were 3 girls or maidens, thus they appeared to be younger. They were also often depicted carrying a long rope or the thread of life in their hands.

In the Voluspa, Skuld was also a Valkyrie in the company of other Valkyries. It doesn't say anything about Skuld being a norn in this poem.

She saw valkyries coming from far and wide,
ready to ride to the Gothic nation;
Skuld held one shield, Skogul another,
Gunn, Hild, Gondul, and Spear-Skogul;
now the ladies of the General, the valkyries are counted up,
ready to ride the earth.
Voluspa 30

The Gylfaginning (Prose Edda), clearly indicated Skuld is both Norn and Valkyrie; that she was the youngest norn.

These are called valkyries. Odin sends them to every battle. They allot death to men and govern victory. Gunn and Rota and the youngest norn, called Skuld, always ride to choose who shall be slain and to govern the killings.
Gylfaginning 35 (Prose Edda)

However, these 3 norns were not the only norns to exist. Snorri reported others when they are born, shaping people's lives. Some of these norns were of the race of elves, while others were that of the dwarves. Snorri also wrote that the "good norns" of noble births were responsible for shaping good or successful lives, while evil norns were responsible for the misfortune.

 
Related Information
Name
Norns.

Urda or Urd, Weird (past), Wyrd
"Fated".

Verdani (present),
"Becoming".

Skuld (future), "Must-be".

Related Articles
Nine World, Norse Creation.


The Norns
Arthur Rackham
Illustration, 1912









This page belongs to Timeless Myths.



www.timelessmyths.com



See Copyright Notices for permitted use.


For feedback, questions, or just to say "hello",
contact can made through the Contact page.
No mailing list or spamming, please.



Aesir  |  Asyniur  |  Non-Aesir Deities

Home  |  Norse Mythology  |  Asgard  |  Valhalla  |  Norse Sagas

What's New?  |  About  |  Bibliography  |  Fact & Figures  |  Genealogy  |  FAQs  |  Links  |  Copyright  |  Donation  |  Contact  |  Back